Twitter search has been steadily improving since it was acquired from Summize in 2008. At first it returned tweets in a different format from the rest of the API, and had other integration problems, but Twitter has been working on it steadily. I’m writing a book on search API programming, and the first step is testing every possible query option and documenting them on this blog. I thought I’d start with a very cool operator that isn’t documented by Twitter. It is min_retweets. As the name implies, it will identify tweets that have gotten at least the specified number of retweets.
This is a great form of quality control. I’m always telling clients that Twitter is a focus group for their messaging, and this option clears out the noise so they can identify the tweets on any subject that have gotten the most reaction.
For example, this search for Obama has no minimum set for retweets:
Here is the same search for Obama with a min_retweets setting of 100:
When I run these two queries, the difference in quality is obvious. Another benefit of min_retweets is that it reveals the most influential users on any subject. Anyone who can get 100 retweets or more has a lot of influence on that subject.
Do you know any secret search operators? I’d love to hear about them.